Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Developmental Counseling and Therapy as a Model for School Counselor Consultation with Teachers

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Developmental Counseling and Therapy as a Model for School Counselor Consultation with Teachers

Article excerpt

Referral requests for individual counseling pose a threat to the implementation of comprehensive school counseling programs (Jackson & White, 2000). Consulting with teachers is one way that school counselors can efficiently respond to some referrals while also providing system support. Using a developmental counseling and therapy-based consultation model, school counselors can assess how a teacher is conceptualizing a student's behavior, respond to the stress a teacher may feel connected to that behavior, and indirectly effect change in a classroom system.


The allocation of school counselors' time is among the emphases of comprehensive school counseling program models (e.g., Gysbers & Henderson, 2000). Burnham and Jackson (2000) found that the percentage of time school counselors spend on individual counseling is elevated compared to the recommended percentage discussed by Gysbers and Henderson. Jackson and White (2000) indicated that "requests for individual counseling pose the biggest threat to developmental and preventative counseling programs" (p. 278). Furthermore, they found that teacher referrals for students' individual counseling are frequently guided by the belief that the school counselor's role is to solve students' current behavior problems rather than to prevent future problems. Offering to serve as a consultant to a teacher is one way that school counselors can reframe referral requests into an opportunity to intervene at the systems level and emphasize prevention.

Consultation is an integral activity for school counselors working in comprehensive, developmental programs. They can use consultative techniques to provide both responsive services and system support (American School Counselor Association, 2005). For example, a school counselor can respond to a teacher's request for consultation regarding a student concern, and through that interaction the teacher might gain skills, knowledge, or insight that can help him or her to be better prepared to respond to or prevent a similar situation in the future (Parsons & Kahn, 2005). Thus, consultation can be both a preventative measure (Jackson & White, 2000) and an efficient use of a school counselor's time (Brigman, Mullis, Webb, & White, 2005; Parsons & Kahn).

Through consultation with a teacher, school counselors can target the individual who is most likely in a position to effect change in the classroom environment. If a teacher implements changes that make the classroom system function more effectively, then the frequency or intensity of some student behaviors may decrease (Marzano & Marzano, 2003). Changing the system not only may help a student to make immediate behavioral changes but also might help a student to sustain those changes (Ivey, 1991). Furthermore, classroom management affects not only the student identified in the referral but also the class as a whole and has a substantial effect on students' achievement (Marzano & Marzano; Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1993).


There is a plethora of literature indicating that students' behavior and classroom discipline are significant sources of teachers' stress (Kyriacou, 2001; Montgomery & Rupp, 2005; Wiley, 2000). Specifically, student behaviors that are emotionally charged and social (e.g., impulsivity, anxiety, hostility, and aggressiveness) rather than academic in nature are the "most significant and universal of teaching stressors" (Greene, Abidin, & Kmetz, 1997, p. 240). Although there is limited agreement on the definition of stress in the education literature, Wiley, in a synthesis of research on teachers' stress, offered the definition "job related factors [that] interact with the worker to change her psychological or physiological condition such that she is forced to deviate from normal functioning" (p. 1). It may be important to address the stress that some teachers feel in relation to student behavior because stress may impact a teacher's ability to manage a classroom effectively (Wiley). …

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